Spinal cord injuries, otherwise known as SCIs, can result from various accidents at work, and their consequences can be life-altering. It is important to be aware of the signs of an SCI to potentially improve outcomes.
According to Statista, 302,000 Americans were dealing with a spinal cord injury by the end of 2022. Noticing more about these signs can also help you determine whether you are one of those people.
Loss of sensation and movement
One of the primary signs of an SCI is the sudden loss of sensation or movement in specific body parts. This can manifest as numbness, tingling or paralysis in the limbs or torso, depending on the injury’s location and severity.
SCIs affecting the upper cervical spine can interfere with diaphragm function. This may lead to difficulties in breathing, characterized by shallow respiration or even the need for mechanical ventilation.
Spinal cord injuries often result in abnormal reflex responses. These can manifest as hyperreflexia, where reflexes become overly sensitive and exaggerated, or hyporeflexia, where reflexes weaken or become absent.
Loss of bowel and bladder control
An SCI can lead to a loss of control over bowel and bladder functions. Individuals may experience incontinence, constipation or an inability to voluntarily empty the bladder.
Many people with SCIs report experiencing intense pain. This pain is often described as sharp or burning near the injury site or other parts of the body. Managing neuropathic pain is a significant challenge in SCI care.
Involuntary muscle spasms and contractions are common symptoms of spinal cord injuries. These spasms can be painful and disrupt an individual’s mobility and comfort.
Blood pressure instability
SCI can disrupt the autonomic nervous system, causing fluctuations in blood pressure. Individuals may experience low blood pressure when changing positions or episodes of dangerously high blood pressure.
Difficulty regulating temperature
Controlling body temperature becomes challenging for those with SCIs. They may become more susceptible to overheating or getting too cold, which can lead to discomfort and complications.
Untreated spinal cord injuries can result in spinal deformities over time, such as scoliosis or kyphosis. These deformities can further complicate an individual’s physical health and mobility.
Recognizing the signs of a spinal cord injury is important for early intervention and better outcomes. While these signs may be distressing, advances in medical treatment and rehabilitation offer hope for individuals with spinal cord injuries, enabling them to regain some level of independence and improve their quality of life.